Day 19, Tuesday, May 8
Got up at 5:00, breakfast at 5:30. We are still sailing into Safaga, Egypt. We mustered at 6:30 am and left the ship at 7:00. You can immediately tell you’re back in Egypt. Trash on the streets, police in white uniforms carrying AK’s. Home sweet desert. Safaga is a small town, so the convoy passed through it in minutes. Across the water is Saudi Arabia.
Each bus had an armed member of the security police on board. I got a seat right behind the rear side door. More leg room, and the water cooler is right in front of me. I st with a crew member from South Africa. Once we were underway, I discovered that there’s a price to pay for more lef room. Everytime someone used the bathroom in the stairwell, the smell was overwhelming. Almost puked the first time, but learned to breath through my mouth. Oh, brother. Three hour drive to Luxor, and the old folks on this bus were using the can every five minutes. Please God, just kill me now. Was kinda hoping to be taken hostage. Conditions as a prisoner couldn’t be any worse.
The desert between Safaga and Aquaba is about the most uninviting desert I’ve ever seen. No greenery anywhere. The highway was okay, not traveled by many cars, but the pabement had buckled in a number of spots from the incessent heat. We were lucky. It was only 97 degrees. Arrived in Luxor, crossed the Nile river and saw the riverboats that sail the entire length. Interestingly enough, the Nile flows from South to North, the complete opposite of all the major rivers in the States. The Aswan has really helped to control the flooding. The lands around the nile are fertile and farming is everywhere. The people are dirt poor, many living in mud brick houses.
We saw a few monuments, then it was off the the Valley of the Kings.
If I say amazing, it’s overused but understated. Hundreds of tombs dug into the sides of mountains. Many of the mountains have pyramid shapes. The 4000 year old drawings are spectacular. Went down into three tombs (included in the price of the ticket). All the while we had to fight the intense heat, the dry air, and the in your face hawkers. Everything is “One dollar.” They don’t take no. They try to engage you in conversation, then if that doesn’t work, they give you the postcards, etc. for free because you “look like an Egyptian,” or “ I love Americans.” If you take it, they start pressing for a return gift from you of….you guessed it…. one dollar. some of the old guys in our group nearly came to blows with several vendors, and the arguments at the top of everyone’s lungs was constant. The tourist police don’t do much, if anything. Until this country has a new president and everything gets settled, it won’t be back to normal. And no, I didn’t buy anything.
We drove to a beautiful hotel in Luxor for lunch. It was good and I tried a number of things that I normally wouldn’t eat, but there was no Camel on the menu. After lunch we went to Karnak.
This was an awesome site. Three hundred acres of a single giant temple. 180 pillars, and hopefully, I can get a few photos of them to post. But the heat was killer, and we couldn’t wait to get back on the bus, toilet smells and all.
The ride back to the boat was even longer. The sun went down and it was harder to stay on the road because of all the turns. But we made it at about 9 pm. On the way, someone left the toilet door open and the smell never left. The guy next to me was asleep, so I couldn’t get up to close it. It was forty five minutes of pure hell before the door slammed shut on a turn. Ugh!
Once we were on the ship, I ate a quick meal (mostly lemonade and chocolate chip cookies), and went straight to bed. The heat was exhausting.
Day 20, Wednesday, May 9
Slept in until 6:30 am, my cold finally seems to be gone. I was beginning to think I had TB. 🙂 I had a leisurely breakfast, then went out to the pool to sunbathe for thirty minutes. We’re having a safety drill this am in case we’re attacked by pirates. I’m not kidding. They take this very seriously. Tonight we’ll start into the gulf of Aden, off Sudan. The ship will be blacked out after dark, and all outside decks closed. Security personnel will be on watch with night viewing scopes and weapons. If a boat comes close, we’ll go into evasive action turns. No one expects trouble. This ship is to large, has a crew of 1500, and no one wants to miss Dubai, so pirates beware. We just might run you over.
After lunch today, I’m going to finish proofing the novel (only 20 pages to go), then a massage at 3:30. Life is so tough when you cruise. Nothing to do but read, drink, eat, eat, eat, workout, and nap. 🙂
I quit proofing without finishing. The last chapter doesn’t flow well, but my mind is not into it. I’ll let it percolate tonight and finish it tomorrow. I had the massage. Once again, it was bery relaxing. I fell asleep twice on the table. I watched the movie Casablanca, then dinner, followed by a ten pm bedtime. I just can’t seem to get interested in any of the shipboard shows or activities. The ship is running on minimal outdoor lighting, so I went up on deck 12 to look around. It’s really black out tonight, the noon isn’t up yet. But it’s hot, hot, hot. The desert wind from Egypt/Sudan or Saudi Arabia is blowing at about 15 knots. I’m betting that it’s in the low nineties. CNN put the temperature at Mecca today at 107, so it’s no wonder. Mecca is inland, about a hundred clicks from the water. We’ll be passing it shortly. I only lasted ten minutes up top, so I called it a night and crashed with the final episode of Harry Potter in English on the TV. It’s been running in French all week long.
Day 21 Thursday May 10
I woke up at 4:30, fully rested. I had an idea for finishing the novel so that’s precisely what I did. It’s completely finished, and I have no intention of even looking at it again before I send it off to the publisher. The last chapter is now better than ever, so it’s fine’.
I went over to my balcony, rolled back the blackout curtains, and the ambient heat poured in through the window glass. Uh, oh. It’s going to be miserable outside by the pool. I went out for breakfast at 8am, then hit the pool about nine. By 10 I’d had it. the wind is still blowing hot air across the decks and the sun is unremitting. It’s 11:00 o’clock now, and at noon we’ll be stopping in the middle of the sea to allow a boat to come alongside. The Captain warned us not to panic. It’s carrying extra security personnel and specialized equipment to deal with Jack Sparrow and his mates. I’ll try to get pictures of this. Hope they’re bringing SAM’s on board…or at the very least, RPG’s. 🙂 Maybe it’s a 50 caliber machine gun. This could end up being very cool.
The Captain just announced that after 3 pm, our security forces will be test firing their “weapon” in preparation for our transit through disputed waters. This is getting cooler by the minute.
I can’t get any photo’s to load up. I don’t know what’s wrong, but I’ll keep working on it.